Memory & Landscape

A.K.Bellinger Gallery – group show -2019

Before crossing the Nullarbor plain in May this year I prepared 8 plywood surfaces with the goal of creating resolved works during the journey. Driving through constant rain during the day and setting up camp in the evenings, I would paint with receding sunlight. I developed these works by referencing my journal notes (written during the drive), my memories and my immediate environment. Last light, combined with the mysterious changing light of oncoming rain, punctuated by constant rainbows make up this body of work. Chiaroscuro, ‘the effect of contrasted light and shadow’ is my experience of crossing the Nullarbor.

A true sunburnt country with kilometres of sweeping plains. A land that waits patiently for rain and revels in the apologetic down pour of a flood. Absurd and unique flora and fauna go about their business and if you are lucky you may meet some. Australia has become my muse, overwhelmed by it’s sublimity, and adversity. 

A quote that has resonated with me since I began landscape painting, “It is by leading [the] body to the world that the painter changes the world into painting” (Merleau-Ponty 1964). This has become the foundation of my practice, I paint what is around me. I spend time in the land and am compelled to create visual odes.

As contemporary civilisation becomes more materialistic, I am drawn to spend more time immersed in nature. The more I study and paint the environment around me, the more I see the landscape as a painting. I find humility amongst nature, it is here I am relieved of anxieties and am reminded that we are nature. I understand a primordial connection between humans and their natural world. We depend on a healthy environment to survive.

I have been traversing the country for the past 12 months, using painting as a tool to document my experience, taking notes and trying to understand this diverse and ancient land.

With this need to paint I take materials into the landscape and begin drawing, writing notes and painting. Without the benefits of a traditional studio I find myself taking advantage of favourable conditions and space, or make do with what is available (caves, trees, windbreaks/large rocks). The en plein air studies and journal notes I have built up over the past 12 months have become references for larger resolved works. Taking opportunities to set up camp for a week or 2 to work on large lengths of canvas in an ‘outback studio’.

A large country and a huge subject to take on, Australia continues to challenge my practice. I am forever finding interesting elements of enquiry, with this in mind I need to focus myself and set limits, and goals. With the overwhelming amount of inspiration I experience, journal work is a major part of my practice.